886 L'argent

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bottled spider
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Re: 886 L'argent

#51 Post by bottled spider » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:23 pm

What I meant was that the French government notoriously failed to arrest and summarily execute the booing audience on the ludicrous legalistic scruple that "they hadn't broken any law".

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domino harvey
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Re: 886 L'argent

#52 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:20 pm

They were booing the color palette-- "We demand urine-soaked visuals, Bresson," the chants famously went. Finally, 34 years later, Criterion silenced the outcry once and for all

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Re: 886 L'argent

#53 Post by John Shade » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:16 am

Went through this and the special features yesterday. It's definitely the bleak film everyone has described it as. I still see it completely in line with Bresson's other work, and perhaps one of his best (need to watch a few more times). There seems to be a running idea that Bresson's later films are darker because he lost or questioned his Christian faith--he said he was a Christian Atheist in the '70s, yet after watching the Cannes clip, he seems the type to say things just to stir critics--whether or not he had it or lost it, this film has an almost Old Testament level of lamentation going on. I wonder if Kieslowski watched this before he made his A Short Film on Killing, because there the young people also have a corrupt, nihilistic vibe.
SpoilerShow
In the Tolstoy novella, the final parts are devoted to the main character's conversion and redemption in prison.
Obviously that doesn't happen in this film. Quandt, along with vague critics I potentially remember reading years ago, seem to think of this as meant to be troubling, potentially bleaker. I too kind of have a hard time envisioning this character changing in prison (at the same time, I never envisioned Lucien as some kind of Robin Hood in fine suits). Bresson, on the other hand, in the Cannes interview seems to say that confession is enough, so end it there. That doesn't answer or suggest anything about the final shot.
Bresson's adaptation is definitely more Dostoevsky than Tolstoy. The ax, and then this scene I noticed. Maybe some of our French viewers could add to this. During Lucien's trial he seems to say "il n'ya pas (vraiment?) de regles que tout est permi" which Criterion subtitles as "there are no rules anymore." But I think the latter part sounds Dostoevsky and would be a crucial idea for Bresson.

Gonna throw some more questions out there on this big post of mine: Is the Devil, Probably on Filmstruck? It showed up quite a bit in Quandt's study. He also, as domino mentioned I think, used a minute or two to make a plea for Four Nights of a Dreamer, which seems to exist on a Japanese blu ray. Bresson seemed to have a lot of energy and fire during that Cannes press conference. Do any books about him talk about his later years? He lived for sixteen or seventeen more years after this film.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: 886 L'argent

#54 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:52 pm

JohnShade wrote:During Lucien's trial he seems to say "il n'ya pas (vraiment?) de regles que tout est permi" which Criterion subtitles as "there are no rules anymore." But I think the latter part sounds Dostoevsky and would be a crucial idea for Bresson.
He says: "Étant donné les circonstances spéciales où j'ai soi-disant volé, et au nom des idées nouvelles - qu'il n'y a pas vraiment de règles, que tout est permis -, je pouvais espérer d'un non-lieu". My translation: "Given the circumstances where I supposedly committed robbery (or where I committed so-called robbery), and in the name of new ideas - that there aren't really rules, that everything is allowed -, I could hope for an acquittal."
Last edited by Rayon Vert on Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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whaleallright
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Re: 886 L'argent

#55 Post by whaleallright » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:57 pm

I had heard rumors about the confrontational press conference after this film's press screening, and the full video on this disc did not disappoint. I revolved between being sympathetic to Bresson's frustration with the often uncomprehending or downright hostile questions (the Italian[?] journalist who asks, "If you don't like casting actors, why do they have acting schools?" was a low point), irritated by his recalcitrance even in the face of sympathetic questions and his arrogance (he often presumptuously answers questions posed to the actors/"models"), and amused by a combination of things: Bresson's complete indifference to the live translation, the often confused boundary between his inability to hear the journalists' questions and his not wanting to hear them, and his fit of pique at the festival for programming his film after another.

I don't know much (and truth be told, not many aside from his widow Mylène know much) about Bresson's later years, except that he did spend some time continuing to try to get Genesis made, and at least through the mid 1990s continued to venture beyond his apartment on the Île Saint-Louis (which is probably worth a fortune now) to take walks through the city.

Quandt mentions in his video essay that until his death, Bresson's precise birthdate wasn't generally known, but doesn't note that Bresson probably deliberately obscured the year of his birth in order to get producers to think he was a bit younger than he actually was. As it was, producers were likely wary of financing a film by a director in his late 70s; had they known that he was actually nearly ten years older....

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knives
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Re: 886 L'argent

#56 Post by knives » Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:51 pm

There's an old story, perhaps more appropriate for A Man Escapes but for which this film explains well. Four men share a prison cell together. In secret three of them dig a tunnel and escape in the night. The guard on duty in the morning sees this with the one extra man quietly sitting in his cell. Naturally he opens the cell and once he's determined their escape he beats the remaining prisoner nearly to death. The moral given to this parable is that the escapees were working in the nature of things since freedom is outside a prison. The beaten prisoner was the one who truly escaped as he redefined the prison as something that was not containing him. Prison was no longer a punishment.

That's of course not a real discussion on the film, but Bresson reminded me intensely of it and that connection helped me to like the film when at first I was finding it to be the least of the three colour films I've seen. I'm still not as emotionally or intellectually connected to it as them, but I think if I reach 100 it will turn out to be the one that works best for me.
Last edited by knives on Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 886 L'argent

#57 Post by MichaelB » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:02 pm

L'Argent was my first Bresson (on its original cinema release), and it set the standard for me. Obviously there are half a dozen others (at least) that are on a similar plane, but the first is often the most powerful, and that's very much the case here.

When I watched a complete Bresson retrospective (all fourteen films, including Affaires publiques) in 1999, it concluded with L'Argent and it felt for me as though his entire career had been building up to it. As "last films" go, it's one hell of a one to go out on.

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Big Ben
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Re: 886 L'argent

#58 Post by Big Ben » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:15 pm

I'm legitimately jealous of Michael because he's gotten to see some of those Bresson films many of us have not. I've heard rumors that someone (His widow?) keeps some of them from being widely seen but I'm not sure about the veracity of the statement. The ones that are widely available all seem to well liked (To varying degrees of course. I've never seen some say The Trial of Joan of Arc was his best film.)

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whaleallright
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Re: 886 L'argent

#59 Post by whaleallright » Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:55 am

Mylène Bresson, Robert's widow, claims ownership over several of his films that are in fact owned by others. Although she's wrong, the French legal tradition of honoring the droit de l'auteur—and no distributor or video label wishing to reap the bad press of crossing Bresson's widow—makes it more difficult to contend her claims. (In one recent incident I've heard of, she asked to inspect one of the few projectable prints of one of his later films, and then simply didn't return the print.) I'm sure she has her own reasons. Delicate diplomacy has convinced her to allow certain of these films to be screened for some retrospectives, and her reach doesn't seem to extend to Japan, where a Blu-Ray edition of Quatre nuits d'un rêveur (unrestored, but not bad-looking at all) has come out. But I suspect that film and likely Une femme douce won't get much wider circulation until she passes. I'd love to be proven wrong.

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MichaelB
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Re: 886 L'argent

#60 Post by MichaelB » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:57 am

The complete BFI retrospective happened when Bresson was still (just) alive. I didn’t originally intend to watch absolutely everything, just catch up on the titles I hadn’t seen, but I couldn’t help myself.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 886 L'argent

#61 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:09 pm

whaleallright wrote:Mylène Bresson, Robert's widow, claims ownership over several of his films that are in fact owned by others. Although she's wrong, the French legal tradition of honoring the droit de l'auteur—and no distributor or video label wishing to reap the bad press of crossing Bresson's widow—makes it more difficult to contend her claims. (In one recent incident I've heard of, she asked to inspect one of the few projectable prints of one of his later films, and then simply didn't return the print.) I'm sure she has her own reasons. Delicate diplomacy has convinced her to allow certain of these films to be screened for some retrospectives, and her reach doesn't seem to extend to Japan, where a Blu-Ray edition of Quatre nuits d'un rêveur (unrestored, but not bad-looking at all) has come out. But I suspect that film and likely Une femme douce won't get much wider circulation until she passes. I'd love to be proven wrong.
Had no idea. FWIW, BAM screened a complete retrospective around 2010 (when the Metrograph's programmer was there).

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whaleallright
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Re: 886 L'argent

#62 Post by whaleallright » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:35 pm

Yeah, there have been a few (less-well-traveled) retrospectives, full and otherwise, since Bresson's death, for which M.B. consented to allow screenings of the rarer films (or perhaps in some cases they managed to work around her). And even when he was alive, in his last years I believe she was essentially the point person for all things R. Bresson.

I believe she has good or at least functional relationships with some programmers and cinema institutions, if not always with the producers that funded the films.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 886 L'argent

#63 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:04 pm

Does anyone remember what this film looked like when Criterion had it up on Hulu? I didn't have Hulu, and since I had already seen it projected from a 35mm print, I didn't feel the need to subscribe.

I'm wondering if the color was better because I just bought this via the flash sale, and the new color timing is a pretty big disappointment. (I knew it would be, but I love this film too much to pass on it.)

As mentioned by domino, it's even more egregious when you watch James Quandt's essay "A-Z." Under "C" for color, it's pretty much implied to Bresson cared a great deal about how film stock captured color, one reason he put off shooting in color for a very long time.

On another note, James Quandt also mentions Quatre nuits d'un rêveur in his essay - apparently he had two 35mm prints made under the supervision of the original cinematographer, and he had hoped to show them as part of a traveling retrospective on Bresson, but "rights issues" prevented them from getting shown.

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Re: 886 L'argent

#64 Post by Werewolf by Night » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:15 pm

I saw Quatre nuits during the 1998 retrospective.

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Re: 886 L'argent

#65 Post by zeroism » Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:25 pm

hearthesilence wrote:Does anyone remember what this film looked like when Criterion had it up on Hulu? I didn't have Hulu, and since I had already seen it projected from a 35mm print, I didn't feel the need to subscribe.
It streamed in SD, and looked similar to the AE DVD (perhaps from the same master), if memory serves. If you're willing to trade resolution for more natural colors, that release (or the mk2, which looks the same and has English subs) is probably the way to go.

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jsteffe
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Re: 886 L'argent

#66 Post by jsteffe » Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:40 pm

I took a closer look at the Blu-ray for L'ARGENT, and I think I have a better idea of what is going on with the color. I am fairly sure that this is a case, similar to some other restorations, where the odd color timing is not an aesthetic choice at the grading stage. It is a result of administrative and technical workflow decisions on Eclair's part. The color output is likely not intended for home viewing or DCP projection, but for some other purpose such as printing onto 35mm film stock. The LUT that has been applied is supposed to compensate for the necessary shift in color values.

As with Eclair's restoration of MURIEL, the color shift affects the entire video file that Eclair supplied, and not just the film itself. Here is the restoration credit for L'ARGENT, followed by the video scope of that image:

http://www.jamesmsteffen.net/wp-content ... redits.png

http://www.jamesmsteffen.net/wp-content ... scopes.png

As you can see, the restoration credit does not have pure whites and blacks. Nor does the MK2 logo that comes before it. Because the blue channel is suppressed on the top end, it gives the image an overall yellowish tinge. You can see this in many DVD Beaver frame grabs for L'ARGENT. The darker parts of the image tend more toward teal because the blue and green channels are elevated relative to the red channel on the lower end. You can see an example of the teal push here:

http://www.jamesmsteffen.net/wp-content ... -frame.png

In particular, the darker blues in the film all tend toward teal to varying degrees.

I am arguing that the problem is not that Eclair likes the "yellow and teal" look. It is that they are supplying masters that are not properly timed for home video viewing. Possibly this is result of cost-cutting or time-saving measures on their part, or because they are only concerned about other output formats such as 35mm. Unfortunately, this leaves the home video market, which is by far how most people encounter films like this, in the lurch.

I am happy to be corrected on all of this, if someone has better information than I do.

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tenia
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Re: 886 L'argent

#67 Post by tenia » Tue Nov 27, 2018 5:09 am

Why am I not even surprised a bit ?
This being written, it's always good to go beyond the aspect on the screen and understand where this is stemming from. However, it remains hard for me to understand why would Eclair do that (and, I suppose, it might also be an explanation for L'immagine Ritrovata's gradings) and seemingly being amongst the only ones to output restorations this way. I mean :
- no professional got to them asking what is going on ?
- is there no interaction at all with any other lab to understand if maybe they're doing stuff they're the only ones to do ?
- why is this something new they weren't doing 5 years ago ?

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domino harvey
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Re: 886 L'argent

#68 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:35 pm

Interesting theory, jsteffe. This may solve the mystery, and given you have some working relationships with several labels, I hope yours is a voice they at least listen to going forward

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Re: 886 L'argent

#69 Post by Drucker » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:20 pm

Would this also explain why Arrow was able to fix Tree Of Wooden Clogs? This makes it seem like grading correctly is relatively simple, and reminds me of the issue we saw with heavy blacks in the re-printed TCM disc of Lady From Shanghai.

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tenia
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Re: 886 L'argent

#70 Post by tenia » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:35 pm

Part of the issue is that we might perceive neutral gradings as more correct than non-neutral / biased ones, but maybe the movies are supposed to be slightly biased in some colors (for instance, depending on the lighting used on set).
However, the issue I have with Ritrovata and Eclair about this is that it would mean all of their movies are supposed to be biased in very similar ways (yellow for Ritrovata, quite teal for Eclair), as if all these movies were shot with the same equipments and the same aesthetic goals. Which seem vastly far-fetched considering the ton of movies now concerned.

The heavy blacks on Lady From Shanghai is, to me, another issue which has probably more to do with BD encode than restoration gradings, especially encoding the BDs with the proper gamma and the right RGB range (which, seemingly, not every authoring house seem to know how, even in 2018).

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jsteffe
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Re: 886 L'argent

#71 Post by jsteffe » Tue Nov 27, 2018 2:26 pm

tenia wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:35 pm
Part of the issue is that we might perceive neutral gradings as more correct than non-neutral / biased ones, but maybe the movies are supposed to be slightly biased in some colors (for instance, depending on the lighting used on set).
However, the issue I have with Ritrovata and Eclair about this is that it would mean all of their movies are supposed to be biased in very similar ways (yellow for Ritrovata, quite teal for Eclair), as if all these movies were shot with the same equipments and the same aesthetic goals. Which seem vastly far-fetched considering the ton of movies now concerned.
You raise an important point. Not every film should have a "neutral" look - it's a question of which films and what specific look they should actually have. Also, you could make an argument in favor of approaches such as trying to simulate carbon arc projection for presentation on DCP and home video, depending on when the film was made. That is a separate issue of course, from supplying a master that is not timed correctly for the home video environment and/or DCP projection.

I have no idea why those labs are adhering to this practice - assuming that my understanding of the situation is correct. All I know is that the end result doesn't look right, and it doesn't square with what other facilities are producing, at least for public consumption.

Tenia, I am also mystified why this problem has been going on so long, and why professionals have not confronted the labs about it.

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Re: 886 L'argent

#72 Post by jsteffe » Tue Nov 27, 2018 2:41 pm

Drucker wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:20 pm
Would this also explain why Arrow was able to fix Tree Of Wooden Clogs? This makes it seem like grading correctly is relatively simple, and reminds me of the issue we saw with heavy blacks in the re-printed TCM disc of Lady From Shanghai.
From what I understand, if a finished master is delivered with the kind of applied LUT that I am describing, then the color is baked in and can't be completely fixed. You might be able to re-balance the color, roughly speaking, but it can't substitute for a proper grading prepared from the ungraded master. For instance, if the LUT results in crushed colors or blacks, then it is very difficult, if not impossible to correct completely.

Sometimes labels are able to request ungraded masters to work with on their own, but sometimes they can only tweak a finished master, which is not ideal. And sometimes they are contractually obligated to use the master supplied to them, even if it has visible problems with the color.

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tenia
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Re: 886 L'argent

#73 Post by tenia » Tue Nov 27, 2018 3:55 pm

jsteffe wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 2:26 pm
Tenia, I am also mystified why this problem has been going on so long, and why professionals have not confronted the labs about it.
This, by far, is what frustrates me a lot, because as a reviewer who learnt from scratch what is supposed to be a good and a bad restoration, I've been told for years that what Colorworks (for instance) is doing is tremendous and have thus grown accustomed to thinking restorations sharing the same traits are tremendous too, only now to be told pretty much the opposite : blacks shouldn't go to 0 0 0 and whites to 255 255 255, movies are supposed to be yellow, and neutral gradings are bad.

OK, but then, how come we have acclaimed for years (and still do today) those who are using the full 0-255 range and grading in a rather neutral way color movies ?

At some point, we're at a state where it doesn't make any sense anymore, except if you consider tons of restorations as profundly unfaithful.
Either Eclair / Ritrovata (and a bit of Digimages) are currently doing things that are fine and all the other stuff are just wrong (including stuff Eclair themselves were doing up to 2012). Either it's the other way around.
But basically, at some point, it means stuff that were deemed wonderful are actually garbage. And which is it ? Which of these acclaimed but opposed approaches is the right one ?

And what are all these cinematographers approving ? About the King Hu movies for instance, at which point have those people been involved ? Does anybody follow up the project to ensure what they approved is what ends up on the discs ?

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Re: 886 L'argent

#74 Post by nitin » Tue Nov 27, 2018 5:29 pm

Camera Obscura basically confirmed the same point as jsteffe is currently making a few years ago, a film emulation LUT is applied (at least by Ritrovata) after grading is done (and presumably, in most cases, the director/cinematographer approved grading is done pre this LUT application stage). I have linked to CO’s post on bluray.com before (as well as forum user 2-perf’s poster theory that generated CO’s confirmatory response), I will see if I can refind the links.

Edit- here they are:

https://forum.blu-ray.com/showpost.php? ... tcount=417

https://forum.blu-ray.com/showpost.php? ... tcount=424

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Re: 886 L'argent

#75 Post by jsteffe » Tue Nov 27, 2018 6:10 pm

Thanks for the links, nitin!

In addition to emulating the projection of release prints, they could be applying LUTs for other technical purposes - who knows. I think we would need to know more about the decision making and aims behind the individual restorations. I think something else may be going on with L'ARGENT, technically speaking.

Even so, those "release print" LUTs seem not to produce reliable results. Some films and some individual shots in films look more or less OK, while others look way off. The underlying philosophy may be sound, but it doesn't work very well in practice. It is too crude of a tool, perhaps.

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